An icon gets a refresh No matter what part of the world you’re in, you are bound to come across at least some variation of the Civic.
Orlando, FL – The Honda Civic is one of the best-selling passenger cars in North America. In fact, no matter what part of the world you’re in, you are bound to come across at least some variation of the Civic. Last year, Honda launched a refreshed sedan only one model year after the car was overhauled for 2012. They decided to fly me to sunny Orlando, Florida to drive the all-new 2014 Honda Civic Coupe.
Although there are some very minor changes to the Civic Sedan lineup, the main news here is the new two-door variant. Even though it’s a little bit slower than its competitors and front-wheel-drive, the Civic Coupe caters to a specific niche market that is still drawn to its good looks, its exceptional value, and its particularly wonderful 6-speed manual gearbox.
The 2014 Civic Coupe carries a significant development over its predecessor. Firstly, the styling has been significantly revised. The front fascia is different – Honda has intended it to be a good balance between sporty and eco-friendly, and apparently they have succeeded. The new car looks great. Personally, I’m not a fan of the proportions the wheels present – they look a bit too small for the rest of the car, but the performance-oriented Si comes with 18” wheels.
Honda’s corporate 1.8L engine has a slight power bump in all models. The new Si has 205 horsepower rather than 201, and continues on with the brilliant 6-speed manual transmission. I got the chance to drive the EX model with the 5-speed manual, which I rather liked. The shifter is typical Honda-levels of good, and the clutch is light and predictable. I would have liked a sixth gear, but Honda insists on keeping that an Si-only feature. It has become obvious over the past few years that the mainstream Canadian buyer is not interested in a third pedal, so Honda has made some developments to maximize efficiency for those who opt for an automatic in their Civic. The five-speed automatic has been ditched in favour of a new CVT.
I typically argue against continuously-variable transmissions, but the one in the Civic isn’t half bad. It’s actually quite reminiscent of the one in the 4-cylinder Accord, which isn’t surprising given they use the same programming. Honda tends to perfect their technology before releasing it to the public, and this transmission isn’t any different. The Civic Coupe tester I drove had the paddle-shifters located on the steering wheel, which simulate 7 artificial gears. The new system drives quite smoothly, and I was able to achieve as low as 6.4L/100km in mixed driving conditions – nearly 15% better than in the manual model. Of course, this can be attributed to the fact that my enthusiast self is more tempted to keep the manual within the lower gears to bring out that lovely engine note.
The one very obvious trait of the new Civic Coupe is the fact that the infotainment system has finally gotten a serious upgrade. Rather than tiny buttons around the touchscreen (something I didn’t really mind), Honda has implemented a series of touch-sensitive “buttons”, à la Cadillac CUE. I think I quite prefer the traditional buttons, but the new car does have slick integration with your smartphone, which means that as long as you have a data plan, you now have no reason to opt for the factory navigation option. The new system also is able to browse through select Honda-approved applications on your smartphone including Siri and text messaging.
Unfortunately, there were a couple things I would have wanted on the new Civic that Honda clearly didn’t agree with me on. For one, a sixth gear in the manual transmission (non-Si) model has become standard practice throughout the industry. The Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, and Hyundai Elantra all come with 6-speed manuals. Honda’s infotainment system still doesn’t have the developments necessary to make it one of my favourites. In fact, the one in the previous-generation Civic Coupe was a tad more user-friendly with its physical buttons.
Regardless of a few little nitpicks I have, it’s clear that with the 2014 Honda Civic Coupe, you’re getting one of the best bangs for your buck. A fully-loaded Si goes for roughly $26,000, and for that price, it comes with absolutely everything. It may be a bit slower than, say, a Ford Focus ST, but it’s also significantly cheaper. If the rear-wheel-drive setup of the Scion FR-S or Subaru BRZ makes you uneasy, I suggest not looking any further than this new number from Honda. It’ll keep a grin on your face every second you’re behind the wheel.
First Drive – 2014 Honda Civic Coupe Gallery